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Private van insurance

If you own a van that's used for anything other than business use, then private van insurance could be for you.

But there are a few things to consider about how you use your van, and what's actually covered under private use.

Here's what you need to know about private van insurance and the different levels of cover.

White van travels down the road


What is private van insurance?

You might need to consider private van insurance if you use your van for social, domestic, or pleasure use.

This can include:

  • Holidays
  • Moving house
  • Sporting activities that might need a lot of equipment

Private van insurance is different to business van insurance, which is used for work purposes, such as commuting.

Private van insurance cover is suitable for vans and other light goods vehicles (LGVs), like pick-up trucks. But only if they're used for personal reasons. 


Can I insure a van for private use?

Yes, it can cover you for personal and social use only. The cover can vary between providers.

If you need to use the van for anything business-related, you need business van insurance.

For example, if you're a tradesperson or a courier. Even if you only use your van to commute to work, you might still need business van or temporary business van insurance.

Getting the wrong insurance means you don't have the right kind of cover. We can help you figure out what type of policy you need with our classes of use guide.


What does private van insurance cover?

Private or personal van policies are for people who use their vans for ‘social, domestic or personal’ reasons.

This is also a category when you’re shopping around for car insurance.

Like car insurance, what you pay for your private van policy can depend on other factors including:

  • The type of van
  • If you have an immobiliser
  • Your driving history

Also like car insurance, there are 3 main options for private van insurance depending on the level of cover you want.


Third-party van insurance

This is the minimum legal requirement, and it means you’re covered for any damage or injury you cause to any other road users.

With a third-party policy, you can't claim for damage to your own van in the event of an accident where you're at fault.


Third-party, fire and theft van insurance

As well as the protection offered by third-party cover, this also allows you to claim if your van is damaged by fire. You should also be covered if the van is stolen – or damaged while being stolen.


Comprehensive van insurance

This type of personal van policy offers all the cover that third-party, fire and theft does.

But it also allows you to claim for damage to your own vehicle, or yourself, in an accident where you're at fault.

Comprehensive policies are often considered to be the most expensive option. But they offer much more cover and greater peace of mind.


Optional extras with private van insurance

When you’re making a private van insurance comparison, select all the extras you need. This helps you see the true potential cost of each van insurance quote.

People often want to know how cheap van insurance for private use is likely to be.

The good news is that it could often be around the same price as a standard car insurance policy.

There are also many optional extras that you can choose to add to your private van policy. These could provide extra protection but usually increase the cost of your insurance.

These add-ons include:


Breakdown cover

This means that in the event of a mechanical problem, you should have an engineer turn up and fix your van.

Or, if that’s not possible, tow it to your home or your destination.

You can sometimes add breakdown cover into your insurance, but it's best to shop around first.


Legal protection cover

This could help cover the cost of any legal action you need to take. For example, against other motorists who’ve caused you or your family personal injury.

It could also help to cover the cost of defending a claim against a motoring offence.


Courtesy van

This is the option to have a courtesy car or replacement van if your own vehicle is being repaired.

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When do I need a commercial van policy?

If you carry out any business-related activity with your van, you might need a commercial/business van policy.

Business-related activity means anything that you use your van for to earn money.

This could be driving people around for a fee, transporting and delivering goods, or using it to carry equipment for your own job.

Note that you might still need a commercial van policy even if you only use it for business from time to time.

What about commuting to work in your van? This also means you likely need a commercial policy.

Insurers consider commuting to be a business-related activity.

With car insurance, you can choose a policy that covers you for social and commuting.

But this isn't the case with van insurance.

Commercial van policies are typically more expensive. This is partly because vans used for business are more likely to be on the road and at busier times.

Also, these vans can have more expensive equipment stored in them. This makes them more of a target for thieves.


Van driving licences for private use

Another important question to consider is whether you’re allowed legally to drive any van you’re planning on buying and insuring.

If you have a standard full UK driving licence, this isn't necessarily the case.

A full licence of this kind means you can drive a van, pick-up truck or other LGV weighing up to 3.5 tonnes.

A full licence also allows you to drive a van or minibus with up to 9 seats. Bear in mind this includes the driver’s seat.

Vans and other LGVs that weigh in above the 3.5 tonne mark are classified as Category C1 (also known as Cat C1) vehicles.

You should be allowed to drive a Cat C1 vehicle using your current licence provided you got it before 1997.

If you didn’t pass your test until 1997 or later, you might need a special Cat C1 licence. This should allow you to drive a vehicle weighing between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes.

Read more on our guide on UK van driving licences.


How to get cheap private van insurance

The simplest way to get the best deal on private van insurance is to ensure you compare quotes before you buy.

Different insurers have different levels of cover. This means you might find that some providers offer you cheaper insurance than others.

That’s why it’s vital to shop around and not accept the first offer you’re given.

The same applies when it comes to renewing your policy each year. You can only be sure your current provider is offering you a good deal if you check prices from their rivals.

There are strategies you can use to cut your private van costs. Read more here about the different ways you could reduce the cost of van insurance.


Private van insurance pitfalls to watch out for

It’s crucial to make sure you’ve got exactly the right kind of van insurance based on how you use the van.

If you start using your van for commercial purposes even though your policy is for personal use only, you risk having claims turned down.

If your usage changes while your current policy is still in force, you should tell your insurer immediately.

Changing usage to commercial insurance might likely mean an increase in costs. But at least you aren't running the risk of driving without the right insurance.


How to get a private van insurance quote

Private van insurance costs differ from a range of providers. Compare van insurance quotes with us and find out how much your private van insurance could cost you.